- Hornbills are a family of tropical and sub-tropical birds which are found extensively in Africa, Asia and Melanesia.
- Famously dubbed as the ‘Farmers of the Forest’, these frugivores (fruit-eating birds) help in seed dispersal of several endemic trees and are important for survival and upkeep of entire forests.
- In India, 9 subspecies of hornbills are found. They are: The Great Hornbill, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Narcondam Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill, White-throated Brown Hornbill, Malabar Grey Hornbill, and the Indian Grey Hornbill.
- Five species are found in the northeastern states of which the Wreathed hornbill, Rufous-necked hornbill and the White-throated brown hornbill are restricted to this region within India, although they have a wider distribution in South-east Asia.
- The Narcondam hornbill is found only on Narcondam island (part of the Andaman Islands) in the Bay of Bengal.
- The Indian grey hornbill occurs in the Indian subcontinent, while the Malabar Pied Hornbill is found only in India and Sri Lanka.
- The Malabar grey hornbill is endemic to the Western Ghats.
- Hornbills are cultural symbols of ethnic communities like Nyishi in Arunachal Pradesh.
- The Hornbill festival is celebrated in Nagaland. The aim of the festival is to revive and protect the rich heritage of Nagaland. The festival is named after the Hornbill bird, which finds mention in folklore of most of the state’s tribes.
- The great hornbill is threatened mainly by habitat loss due to deforestation.
- It is hunted for its meat, fat and body parts like casque and tail feathers, which are used as adornments.
- The beaks and head are used in charms and the flesh is believed to be medicinal.
- The great hornbill is evaluated as vulnerable. It is protected at the highest level under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
- Wreathed Hornbill (Rhyticeros Undulatus)- Vulnerable
- Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros Albirostris): Least Concern
- Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros Griseus): Vulnerable
- Indian Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros Birostris): Least Concern
- Narcondam Hornbill (Rhyticeros Nacondami): Vulnerable
- Austen’s Brown Hornbill (Anorrhinus Austeni): Near Threatened
- Malabar Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros Coronatus); Near Threatened
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